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SYFY WIRE Superheroes

'Secret Headquarters': Owen Wilson & Michael Pena talk superhero suit lessons & bad guy inspirations

They may be veterans of the MCU, but Michael Peña and Owen Wilson hadn't exactly gotten the supersuit treatment before.

By Tara Bennett
A still from Secret Headquarters from Paramount Pictures.

It might feel like just about every well-known actor has been cast in either a Marvel Studios or DC Universe superhero film, and while it's getting close to being true, it's important to remember not every actor is cast to play a benchmark hero or villain. Case in point, actor Michael Peña has been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2015 playing Luis in the Ant-Man franchise. And while Luis clearly has mad skills as a former thief-turned-owner of a security company (and impressive motormouth), he's never donned a super suit. The same goes for actor Owen Wilson, who recently joined the MCU to play Time Variance Authority (TVA) Agent Mobius. M. Mobius in Loki. While he plays the perfect mustached civil servant in support of Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the God of Mischief, there was nothing splashy about his role. 

The temptation to finally suit up and play good vs. evil against one another was a big part of the appeal for both Wilson and Pena in joining the upcoming Paramount+ movie, Secret Headquarters. Wilson plays Jack Kincaid an IT guy who gets exposed to an alien orb that turns him into a genuine superhero dubbed The Guard. Pena plays Ansel Argon, the owner of a huge weapons tech company slowly becoming obsolete in a world The Guard is protecting so well.

With Secret Headquarters being one of the projects Wilson took on directly after shooting Loki, he admitted to SYFY WIRE there was some superhero, and more specifically super suit envy that factored into his choice to play The Guard. "Yeah, I think there was a little bit of a taste for it," Wilson says of what attracted him to the family-centric superhero script. "Because, [Marvel] did say I was gonna be wearing a suit. But they meant it literally. I was just wearing a suit," he deadpans about Mobius' drab threads. "And so the chance to actually wear, and get fitted, for my own superhero suit was very attractive and exciting to me."

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Asked if he observed or outright asked any of his superhero-playing actor friends for advice, Wilson said he did. "I had gotten some some advice to work out a little bit and to maybe give the carbs a little bit of a break," he smiled. "I think Michael got the same note."

Pena does indeed suit up in the later half of Secret Headquarters, but he spent more time focused on crafting the perfect villain with Argon, a man who has no problem threatening the lives of children to get what he wants: the alien orb called the Source, which powers everything The Guard does. 

Michael Peña as Argon in Secret Headquarters

Asked if Argon was modeled on any comic book or real life figure, Pena said the first time he read the script a specific person immediately came into his mind: the tech bro who was sent to jail for securities fraud, Martin Shkreli. Pena said when he was much younger he briefly worked in a securities trade company where he got a first-hand view of the personalities. "There's so many opportunistic people there that I was like, 'Oh, I know what this guy's like,'" he says of Argon. "He's the kind of person that'll do something just for financial gain and is clearly immoral. Where it's not illegal, but it's unethical, right? And they'll have all the justifications in the world and blame it on business. The kind of person who says, 'Hey, it's business!' But absolutely, it's wrong."

Secret Headquarters is now streaming exclusively on Paramount+.

Looking for more sci-fi content? Check out shows like Resident Alien, Brave New World, Project Blue Book, Eureka, Heroes, Intergalactic, and more streaming now on Peacock.